Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Crossing over

Crossing over 6-07

For today, I won’t accept less than taking it to the next level. I have been doing triathlons long enough to know that all you can bet on is the moment so any manifesto will be said with a “just for today” attitude.

I am just coming back from an Ironman retreat all by myself. In that time, I got to meet some greats of this sport and train on the same roads and in the same pool as those “greats”. What did it all mean to me?

I also had the chance to face some of the “demons” of my past that I never thought I would. Seems the “bad place” is not so bad and the boogiemen that my childhood brain would remind me of on occasion no longer exist. All of this, I discovered on the vehicle of choice to remind me of who exactly I really am – my bike.

My bike reminds me that I am strong. My bike also knows me so well. When I give up, she does too. When I re-group, she does too. She is that friend that never mocks, but quietly say’s “ok, but I am not sure this is such a good idea” and lets me rediscover my resolve and then replies “thank you, I was waiting for you to come around.” Sometimes, she not so gently replies” nope, you are not getting off the hook that easily – you’ve got more I know it”.

So I am reminded of why I do this in the first place. I have an unending desire to EXPERIENCE my potential. The funny thing about this is that with each “potential goal” reached, the “potential for more is increased; thus the never ending cycle of adventure and discovery. This is MY way of life. For those of us that chose this path, it is OUR way of doing this thing called life. What I discovered is that it matters not where one is on the path – we are all the same and it is good to be on the path.

I think we spend so much time deciphering what makes us different from others rather than choosing to see what similar. To know that we are really all connected and the same makes that elusive “potential” ever present. “We” (rather at the top or somewhere in between) are no different. We have all chosen this highway to live our life The ups are the same as are The downs, the choices as well as challenges.

What an incredible chance I had for me to “meet myself coming and going” this weekend. To go from revisiting the land of my fears to insight of my future all in one day was the chance of a lifetime. And what came out of this?

Resolution that Ironman is a outward demonstration of an inward decision to devour all each day has to offer and throw my hands up and scream at the top of my lungs on each loop and dip of this ride called “LIFE”!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Taper time

Oh back in the familiar cycle of training, tapering and racing. I am so grateful for it because during the taper there is that brief time where I feel as if I can breathe. It is as if there is an open window to the link between the universe and myself. Emotions are high, anticipation is on edge and the nerves are fresh. Yep, this is the time when I seem to get sentimental and I love it. It is the time when I feel more than I feel at any other time except during the race. It is the time when I feel connected to everything and everyone and I am most introspective. It is as if I have a bit of extra space to take a look around and make sense out of what and why I do what I do or perhaps it is the other way around and I do what I do so that I can take this extra space. Either way, it is a time when I have just a bit of extra time to think.

I have been struck lately by the generosity of others. Not generosity in the usual way of giving things or even time but, generosity in the sense of sharing one’s life with others and even strangers. We live in a time of glass houses. There is reality television and the Internet, which are all avenues into voyeurism. There are opportunities to see the nastiness of humanity exploited. During this time, however, I have seen some amazing acts of heroism. I saw a family face the loss of an infant tonight and chose to share their grief and healing with the world. I was struck by what faith and hope it gave me and could/would give others. I have seen dreams followed with a song of an inspiring idol and inspiration in the unchartered waters of a dance step. Oh sure, there are plenty of staged scenes and sharp corners. It is just what does one need to get at the moment that shines through.

I have listened to an interview of a champion. I was moved to tears by the generosity of this athlete. While some chose to stay until they can no longer go and then leave without so much as a “Godspeed”, he came back to chart the course. Peter Reid raises the bar of Champions so high that few will have the courage to attempt to reach it. With the same grace and humility he competed with; he reaches down from the top of the mountain to help other to the peak. He did so without cameras or fan fare. He handed out cups of water and encouragement in the place where he could help the most. Few even knew it was a world champion sending them on their way to realize their dream. I honor him.

That is what I want to be. That is who I want to be. I am grateful for the chance to have yet another extraordinary example of humanity. I am thankful that the mind will quit before the body, but that the soul will out last them both. I am thrilled to have my soul tickled in the way that only a slight rest from hard work can do. Now I am off the race so that my soul can soar.

California 70.3 race report

California 70.3
Finish time 5:26 – Half Ironman pr by 3 minutes!
Short version: swim 36:03
Bike 2:51
Run 1:51
Long version – I did a training camp about 2 weeks ago where I did my last long run for Boston. I felt amazing on that 20 miler, but 2 days later my left leg and back felt as if I had never had the surgery. I was really freaking out about the race. Got lots of Active Release Therapy and massage and encouragement from my running partner, so I sucked it up and went for it. Traveled with another team mate and that was so much fun. As we flew into San Diego, she remembered the scene from Anchorman where he thinks that San Diego means whales vagina. We start making lots of jokes about the bay we swim in being just that, thus making the theme for the weekend. We go to registration and see many old friends from Ironman. Then back to the hotel to put our bikes together. Linda’s bolt for her seat breaks so there is the mad dash back to the expo for a bike mechanic. He has a bolt for her, but not with him so he tells us that he will meet us at the race site at 4:30a.m.! Saturday we are up at 3am, load up and head out. It is freezing! The good thing about getting to the race early is all the sweet racking spots are available. We get her bike set up, set up transition and then begin to shiver for the next 3 hours. We did not start until 7:33! The water was 56 degrees and so cold. As I swam to the start I remembered to put my face in and get over the shock before the start. The gun goes off and so do we. The swim was uneventful and though I felt as if I was swimming way fast, it was not that much faster than last year so I was a bit disappointed. Off to the bike and now I am much warmer. As I take off, I feel like I have nothing in my legs. I cant figure out why and am getting passed by everyone. WTF!? As I head down hill at about mile 10 I hear a really strange sound and think I have flatted…umm no but my brakes are rubbing. Oh what a difference that make! Then as I am approaching the first beastie hill I notice that my handle bars are facing the left and my front wheel is facing forward. While that is great for my back, I am thinking that 2 more hours in this position would not be good for the back. I see the legal bike techs at the bottom of the hill and ask them to meet me at the top for help. Awesome! I will say that I felt so good on the bike. The wind was picking up the last 12 miles, but I was in a good group and everyone stayed steady. Turns out that I went almost a full mile per hour faster than last year. Back in to transition, I realize I have stuck to my nutrition plan and should be ready for the run. I am nervous to see what the back will do. Well it hurt really bad. My feet started to tingle, then went numb then I just felt as if I was on stumps for feet. In my head I quit Ironman racing forever about 4 times. I had left my garmin on my bike so I had to do it old school. I kinda liked it (shocking for a techno junkie like myself) I missed 2 mile markers the whole time, but still pulled out a decent run (only 1 minute slower than last year, but felt way harder). I finish and immediately start crying and do so for about half an hour. Only about 5 months ago, I could hardly walk to the stop sign and now I am back at Ironman. Of course, when I get to the results I see that even though I had a p.r., I placed lower than I did last year. The competition is brutal and I am hungrier than ever to do better. So much for never doing Ironman again, as I take a slot for Ironman Florida. Even through the “post race depression” (as I have begun to call it), I am thrilled for the ) pr and humbled by the talent at these races. I sat through the awards and to the 50+ year old women just brought tears to my eyes. There were many sub 5 hour times and those women looked so very cool. Last year I sat at awards and was so envious of the pros and podium finishers. This year I was just proud to be able to be in the same freezing cold tent with them. That kind of talent is amazing. Now off to Boston and then rest for Florida!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

the hills are alive!

It has been such a long time since I felt like I could organize my thoughts into something that didn't sound like more of the same. In that time, there was not much that was going "my way". Since I come from a belief system that if one believes enough one can create anything - I was clearly not in a good place. I was beliving and creating all over the place and getting "bum" results. I have been in that place before and basically it comes down to when one "hits the wall" the only thing to do is "turn left". So while I was really tempted to park myself at "the wall" (meaning nothing I did seemed to work and I was going nowhere fast"), I also know that those are the times when trust that more will be revealed comes in handy. I have done enough races to provide the metaphore that there are going to be times that nothing seems to be working. The food isn't working, the energy supplements don't work, stopping to pee doesnt work, the tail wind isn't even making me feel better. These are the times that just turing the peddles over and putting one step in front of the other or just staying in between the buoys is all that is needed to get past it and before I know it time has come to get off the bike, get out of the water or the finish line shows up. So that is just about how I have done life. The work situation isn't going as planned, the relationship situation is frustrating, kids are demanding, friends seem to be distant and - the worst, the training is hard and improvements coming slow. So much fitness was lost and finding it seems to be taking every bit of the time off. So this is when I just stay between the shores, keep my eye on the direction I most desire to go and trust. What do I trust when all that around me that I usually trust (even my own body) seems to be just below the bar? That is why I do the Ironman thing. Somewhere in that very long day is the perfect metaphore for any given life experience both good and challenging. So I know "just keep moving forward" and things will change.

Today I went out to do the "Hill Ride". Look I know it is early, that 3 months ago I had back surgery, this was only my second time on my bike on the road (I have been in "trainer hell") and that I had no idea how it would go. Now these hills are nothing to laugh at. They are long and steep. They twist and turn. They are bumpy and deceiving. Basically they laugh at cyclist and dare you to just stay up right. They welcome sports cars and those loud obnoxious fast motorcycles and they laugh at the able bodied cyclist. They seem to be lost for a south texan athlete - they must have come from Colorado or the East coast. They even house a group of Maples and a park called "Lost Maples" . So here we go. I figure if I can stay up right on these, I have a good chance at doing the same in California in March. So up I went. The first one giggled, the second sat up right and took notice, the rollers in between growled and made fun of my certainty and finally the third laughed and tossed some little rocks of the cliffs to mock me. My back squealed, my legs yelped and my shoulders cried. My mind.... ha my mind changed. I grew more stubborn. I became pissed that these hills were determined to make me think I was weak. How dare they? What did I ever do to them but show them the attention and appropriate fear. Well not again! They would not break me. I would, somewhere, on that road remember. Remember, my strength and fortitude. I would remember that I was - NO am AN ATHLETE! That I have a purpose. That I am a representative to all those that wonder what is possible. That I do this to remember that life can change with every breath I take. That it is never permantant. That no matter how much I feel like my power to create has taken a vacation - it hasn't. That all I need to do is keep moving to be reminded. That what I did today is make up my mind to do this step and I DID it. That all of this dreaming of Kona is only one part of this amazing journey. So while on most of the decents I held on for dear life while the hills mocked me...the last one I Owned and with that I released the brakes and OWNED my destiny. TAKE THAT HILLS...till we meet again.